A Continental Airlines jet pulls away from the gate as a United Airlines and Northwest Airlines jets sit at the gate at the Salt lake International Airport April 15, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

They hope to soon be together. (George Frey/Getty Images)

By Mark Memmott

Their long courtship appears to have finally sparked an engagement:

"United and Continental Airlines said on Monday they're forming the world's largest airline in a deal worth about $3 billion." (Associated Press)

In a statement, Glenn Tilton, chairman, president and chief executive officer of UAL Corp., says the combination is "a merger of equals to create a world-class and truly global airline with an unparalleled network serving communities worldwide with outstanding customer service."

Northwestern University transportation professor Aaron Gellman tells NPR's David Schaper that the deal will likely be good for investors, but not necessarily for travelers. "When you have more consolidation in an industry, prices go up," Gellman says:

Bloomberg News notes that if the merger goes through:

"United's name and Chicago headquarters will be retained, while Continental Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek, 55, will become the CEO and United's Glenn Tilton, 62, will be non- executive chairman, the companies said today in a statement. Each Continental share will be exchanged for 1.05 UAL shares." ...
"Annual cost savings and new revenue from the merger should reach $1 billion to $1.2 billion by 2013, the airlines said. The transaction requires approval by shareholders and regulators, and the companies said they expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter."

categories: Business, National News, Travel

7:42 - May 3, 2010